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Sleep: Separate the Myth from the Facts!

By Sara Butler

Many people develop techniques or habits to help them fall asleep at night that they swear by, but are they really true or is it all just in your head? There are a lot of myths surrounding sleep, and since it’s a pretty important part of your health and wellness, it’s time to set the record straight. Here are some myths about sleep you may not be aware of, and the truth behind them!

Do Older People Need Less Sleep?

The truth is that older people don’t need less sleep, they just happen to get less of it because they often have trouble falling asleep at night. This is often the result of medical conditions and the deterioration of the mechanisms in their brains that control their internal sleep clock.

Older folks need between seven and eight hours of sleep a night, while younger people over 18 need between seven and nine, so the sleep requirements aren’t all that different between the two age groups.

Does a Warm Glass of Milk Help You Fall Asleep?

The reason this is a myth is exactly the reason why people think it’s true. Milk contains an amino acid called tryptophan, made famous by your Thanksgiving turkey. It is a harbinger for the sleep hormone serotonin, but researchers have found that foods like milk make it difficult for the tryptophan to ever make it to your brain and actually help you fall asleep.

On a psychological level, drinking warm milk may be associated with falling asleep. That’s why if it’s become a ritual you partake in when you’re having trouble finding sleep it may help. It serves as a trigger.

Is It Possible to Catch Up on Sleep?

Many people view the weekends as a time to catch up on the sleep they are missing throughout the week, but this is a big myth. Sleep debt is an actual phenomenon, but it’s not something you can make up for over the course of a single weekend. It is possible to repay your sleep debt, but it can only be done through tacking on an extra hour or two of sleep every night for several months until you can establish a new sleep pattern.

Be aware that growing sleep debt has been found to contribute to chronic health problems such as obesity, heart disease, and diabetes – so it will pay off to address your sleep debt issues and get back on track.

Sleep is really important, and so is understanding the real truth behind sleep myths!

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